The debt had grown from £1.3bn to £1.5bn because much of it was borrowed in euros and had been hit by the weak pound.
Accounts shown to The Grocer show its turnover in the UK rose 9.7% in the year to December 2008, helped by its acquisition of Woodward Foodservice.
Overall sales rose 13% to £2.047bn, helped by the acquisition of Rault in France and O'Kane Foodservice in Ireland.
However, the company made a pre-tax loss of £100m, mainly because of repayments of shareholder loans to its private equity owner, said chief financial officer Matthew Fearn.
He said the business generated strong cashflows of £109.4m, comfortably ahead of net cash interest payments of £83.5m.